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Man vs Human Being- correct usage in the context of evolution
Thread poster: Bhavna Bajaj

Bhavna Bajaj  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:45
German to English
May 5, 2009

I am translating a text on evolution. I am unsure whether i should use the word "Human Being" or" Man" in this context? For e.g. the sentence- Has the Man/Human Being descended from monkeys? Isn't "Man" more gender-specific? Which word is used more commonly in this context?



Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:15
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Why not post on Kudoz? May 5, 2009

In Kudoz someone might get points for this.
IMO "human being" is wrong in this context. It is "man" or "homo sapiens = modern man" when speaking about evolution.


Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:15
+ ...
People May 5, 2009

You've included the phrase but not the rest of the context, so it's hard to guess.

'Man' is perfectly used in the context of evolution, although some people might have a problem with it, and unfortunately for more reasons than just a gender-specific issue. 'Human being', 'Homo Sapiens' or 'Homo Sapiens Sapiens' are also used but if you want to keep the same informal tone as 'man', you could use 'people'.


Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:15
Spanish to English
Mankind May 5, 2009

Mankind might be a better term


milinad  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:45
German to English
man May 5, 2009

I will go for 'man' in this context


Saeid Hasani  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:15
Farsi (Persian) to English
+ ...
Agree with Lesley May 5, 2009

Mankind specifically points out the race


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:15
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Man or Mankind May 5, 2009

-- but not 'the man'.

Humans have a common ancestor with monkeys
Man is descended from the same common ancestor as the monkeys

The difference is that by using the definite article you suggest one individual.

Quotes like the 'legal' discussion show this.
"Man has embraced Woman since time immemorial," as I have heard it explained. icon_wink.gif
When discussing people like 'the witness', 'the defendant' etc. in general, then one refers to them as 'he'. When you know in a particular case that the person is a woman, you say 'she' as appropriate, but only then.

Using the Latin follows the same principle - it is always Homo sapiens, regardless of the fact that he must have had conjugal relations with a femina / mulier...
You can't win!

Where possible without too many contortions, a good solution is to use the plural, but sentences like 'Everyone was busy with their own affairs' should be avoided in writing at least.

I think we have to accept that this is the nearest English comes to grammatical gender, and live with it.
Raising questions of gender neutrality or equality cloud the issue unless you are going to deal with them in their own right.


liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:15
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Man May 5, 2009


without a doubt in this camp.

Liz Askew


sylvie malich
Local time: 20:15
German to English
Mankind May 5, 2009

30 years ago "man" would have been widely accepted. I'd like to think we've evolved since then.



Epameinondas Soufleros  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:15
Member (2008)
English to Greek
+ ...
Human Species May 5, 2009

"Human species" is the term you're looking for. Darwin does not speak of 'men' or 'human beings'; he speaks of the 'human species'.


Kathryn Sanderson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:15
French to English
Man or homo sapiens May 5, 2009

I would use either one.


Bhavna Bajaj  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:46
German to English
"Man" it is then... May 5, 2009

Thanks everyone for your comments! I really appreciate it. Since majority of you thought it apt to use "Man", I went with that answer...And thanks Christine for pointing out that its not "The Man" but just "Man". Loved your examplesicon_smile.gif


Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 20:16
German to Serbian
+ ...
Man vs Human Being May 5, 2009

" Human Being" is a term that would be used more in areas/ connotations such as philosophy, spiritualism, even poetry and psychology. " being" is derived from " to be", the concept of existing in a broader sense.

" Man" is more likely to denote the species ( the flesh).

So, I'd definitely go with " man" in the context you are describing. "Man" denotes physical evolution, whereas " being" may represent spiritual/mental evolution ( there is a difference).


Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:16
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Humankind? May 6, 2009

I agree with Heinrich that it should be "man" or "homo sapiens" in a context concerning evolution. Another possibility not yet suggested is "humankind" with which everyone can embrace everyone ...


svenfrade  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:16
French to German
+ ...
Humankind... May 6, 2009

is something that immediately came to my mind when I started reading this, but since I am not a native speaker of English I was not entirely sure. So I am glad you suggested it, Jenny.

I find the term "man" in this context very annoying, but of course that is just my personal opinion.

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Man vs Human Being- correct usage in the context of evolution

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